Since I took up the reins in April we all know it has been somewhat of a chaotic time both in our personal and work lives. It seems that the uncertainty of many pressing and important issues will remain with us for quite some time ahead.
Personally, we have had the pleasure of a 13 year old Spanish lad staying with us in foster placement. He has type 1 diabetes and we have been on a crash course of how to manage his condition. Both Emily and I are now masters at weighing out carbohydrates, taking blood samples and administering insulin. Until one comes into direct contact with condition it is quite to comprehend how diffculty is to manage and control, especially with a teenager on the autistic spectrum.
We also have a couple of younger children who come to stay on day respite most weekends and recently a past placement return for the day to come and see us. It is very heart-warming to see these children grow and progress in their lives hopefully knowing that we have made a difference for them.
I also found out recently that I don’t bounce quite as well as I used to. I managed to orchestrate an unforeseen emergency technical dismount from our nearly 16 hand thoroughbred mare, yes I fell off. I landed perfectly with all limbs intact but the commando roll out of the way ended up with me crushing my arm against my body protector. I followed the equestrian rules and got straight back on and carried on riding as my arm swelled up like a balloon. Thankfully no major damage was done to either horse, myself or my pride though it left me with the best bruise all up my arm that I have ever had!
The snap general election that stunned Westminster on 8 June has obviously dashed the hopes of Mrs May that she would turn her party into a healthy parliamentary majority and secure her Conservative vision for Brexit. No doubt shortly after publication of this bulletin the Queens speech will enlighten us a little more on what the new Government plans are for the short and medium term.
The Torey Manifesto pledged the following on access to justice: Continue to modernise courts, improving court buildings and facilities and making it easier for people to resolve disputes and secure justice. Crack down on ‘exaggerated and fraudulent’ whiplash claims and consider a ban on companies’ cold calling people encouraging them to bring personal injury claims. Introduce a Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and create a Domestic Violence and Abuse commissioner. Ensure publicly-funded advocates have specialist training in handling victims before taking on serious sexual offences cases. Ensure that child victims and victims of sexual violence are able to be cross- examined before their trial without the distress of having to appear in court.
In Derbyshire we have already seen some proposals to close some court room sittings with the work usually allocated into them absorbed into others. In Chesterfield so far this year the Domestic Violence sentencing court has been closed on 17 occasions this year and open on 7.(Is there no DV in the north? Are they all loved up?). There has been an average of 5 DV cases per week.
With the demise of Liz Trust our new lord chancellor is David Lidington. Another non lawyer to follow the pattern of recent appointments. He is listed as generally voting for restricting the scope of legal aid and voted for limits on success fees paid to lawyers in no-win no fee cases.
Dominic Raab has been appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice on 12 June 2017. At least he is a qualified solicitor though he has probably no idea about Legal Aid having worked as a business lawyer at City law firm Linklaters, working on project finance, international litigation and competition law. We can only hope that Mr Raab and Lidington engage fully with all of our representative bodies and listen to our concerns and wishes.
Last weekend on Fathers Day we very sadly lost another talented, well liked colleague and friend Rob Duffin. Rob rejoined our family law team here at Eddowes Waldron in the summer of 2016 specialising in care work. It is difficult to find the proper words but I do know he was a good man, a committed father, well respected and hugely liked. I am sure that we all miss him terribly. My thoughts along with all at Eddowes are with his family and especially his children at this very sad time. Once the funeral arrangements are known I will email them out.
Simon Stevens, President, 2017-18